Hayley Oliver sometimes likes to escape. She loves acting, reading and writing – activities that allow her to become other people or live life outside of herself. But when she’s back to being Haley, she is a grounded individual with a deep affection for her faith.
You’re involved with the theater club at school. How did you get interested in acting?
I always thought acting and theater would be something fun to try, becoming someone else and belting out the final notes to a song seemed so intriguing. I also had a love of listening to music growing up; I always had some music on in the background if I was doing homework, little crafty things or just playing in my room. I had also seen plays growing up.
We once went to see “Annie” in Syracuse but somehow ended up at the wrong theater that was hosting a Daughtry concert. We were just a little late to the play. We also saw “Wicked” when I was in seventh grade and that was probably the point where I knew Broadway and theater was going to be a big part of my life.
When I got to junior high I didn’t jump right into the theater program, which is a huge regret of mine. Once I was in eighth grade and heard that they were doing a junior musical, I decided to go to the audition and go for it; it was an amazing experience. From then on I tried to get as involved as I could, whether it was on stage in an ensemble or backstage on the crew.
I also joined a theater youth group called the New Hartford Town Summer Theatre; we put on shows and learned all the basics to acting. Although I was only in it for a short three years before I aged out, it is one of the things I’m so grateful I can say I was involved in.
Why do you like acting?
I like acting because it gives you a chance to become something else, live in a whole other world even if just for a moment. It gives you an escape from the everyday pressures of school, homework and things like that. It’s something that’s also relaxing, even if while acting you’re running around to get your costume change done on time. Acting just clears my head up for awhile, and you only have to focus on the scene you’re in or where your next exit is. Something about it is just very relaxing for me.
Is there something special about acting in role and becoming another person?
When you take on a role and become someone else, you get to see the world as they might see it. When you act you have to embody this person fully, to become them and really get in their head. You start to see things as someone else might, and you can really gain a respect for others through that. Albeit the biggest role that I’ve played was a pirate, so that’s a bad example. The roles that I dream of being able to do someday are the ones that I really start to think about the characters, and their struggles and hopes and dreams and earn that deep respect for them.
In addition to theater, you also love reading and writing.
I love reading and writing because it’s this whole other world that you can enter into. It’s not your everyday mundane life. It’s something that can be exciting and adventurous and everything that you could ever dream of. Writing, though, is amazing because I can create a whole new world or help people to see the world as I see it, and I find that really fascinating.
You’ve been coming to Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament most of your life. What does this parish mean to you?
Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament has become a place that I feel safe and comfortable in sharing my faith. It’s a place that I’ve come to know very well since I started attending religious education classes and I’ve grown up in my faith life there and I find that really special. It’s like how people are fond of their elementary schools because that’s where they learned how to write in cursive or learned how to write an essay; Mount Carmel is the place I learned the Catholic Mass and learned the songs and have grown up in faith.
You’ll be making your Confirmation. Is that something special for you?
I have always been someone who has liked being able to call myself a Catholic, and I saw that Confirmation was a part of that so I went along with it. I never really saw the big picture of what I was actually doing, though, then I attended Notre Dame Vision. It changed the way that I saw my faith life and where I wanted to go with it. After that trip I really got excited for my Confirmation and can’t wait to become an adult in the church. I see it now as a way to deepen my faith further and that is really quite special to me.
What was that experience at Notre Dame University like for you?
Notre Dame Vision was one of the best experiences of my life, hands down. I went because it sounded like it would be a fun time, and I got to go to Notre Dame and I thought that was really cool. I had no idea what I was in for. I met so many new people and made a lot of friends who I could really connect to and look up to because of how deeply they cared for their faith and expressed it wherever they went. It inspired me and really made me want to get more involved and in tuned with my faith. I have never learned so much about myself in such a short period of time. It was a week filled with growth and faith and so much love that it’s almost indescribable.
If there was one message you took away from it, what would it be?
One message would be that faith isn’t something meant only to be important for an hour on the weekend, but something to celebrated in day to day life. There is one moment from the trip that will stick with me for the rest of my life that I think about a lot. The group of us 300 teens were inside this small dorm chapel; it was very simple and not as lavish as Mount Carmel or the Basilica. When it came time to sing the “Our Father,” we all held hands, and I mean all of us. People stretched out into the aisle and around to the people behind them and in front of them. We were all connected in the glory of the Lord and looking around at all those people just like me, who have struggles and worries of their own, really touched me.
How would you describe your relationship with God?
I would say that my relationship with God is mainly me having little conversations. I pray at the most random times, too, but I don’t really think it matters when you do as long as you keep up that relationship. While at Vision, one of the speakers told us that he says “bless us O Lord for these our gifts …” whenever he feels he is receiving a gift from God, and I have started to do that, too. It’s surprising to see how often someone can find a gift from the Lord in day-to-day activities, and it makes you appreciate them all the more.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone?
My advice would be that no matter what hardships someone is going through there is always another day to make things right. As long as someone is true to themselves they can overcome anything and make any situation better. Being yourself is the No. 1 thing today because so many people are fakes and cheats and the best thing to do is to keep your head up and be proud of the person God made you.
Lives: New Hartford.
School: Junior at New Hartford High School.
Family: My Mom and Dad.
Favorite things to do in your spare time: Read, write, listen to music, hang out with friends and family, watch movies and play the piano.
Favorite musical artist: Vance Joy and anything Broadway.
Favorite actor: Ramin Karimloo / Colin O’Donoghue.
Favorite TV show: “Once Upon A Time.”
Favorite movie: “Star Wars” saga.
Favorite book: “Catching Fire.”